President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama had a private dinner last Friday at the White House with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
A spokesman for the president offered few details about the dinner, which took place the night that Obama ordered the budget cuts from sequestration to begin.
"It was a private dinner that the president and the first lady enjoyed with President Clinton and Former Secretary of State Clinton," White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday. "They enjoyed the meal and they enjoyed the conversation.
Asked if the famously garrulous former president — a veteran of second-term budget battles with Congress — had suggested President Obama's social outreach to Republicans, Earnest was careful not to link the two events.
"In terms of the president's bipartisan outreach to rank-and-file members of Congress, that is actually something that started before that dinner," Earnest said. "You know, the president had made some calls to the members of the Gang of Eight a week prior to the dinner, and had hosted Senator [Lindsey] Graham [(R-S.C.)] and Senator [John] McCain [(R-Ariz.)] in the Oval Office the day before."
The president’s burst of socializing will continue next week with visits to lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill.
Earnest said Obama’s outreach efforts — and perhaps even the meals with lawmakers — would continue.
"I think you could view this as an opportunity for the president to engage a new line of communication and an open and constructive dialogue that could contribute to a solution," Earnest said.
The relationship between Obama and Clinton has been the subject of much fascination in Washington. The former president campaigned vigorously for Obama’s reelection last year, and the two men seem to have struck up a friendship.
After winning a second term last November, Obama’s first phone call was to Clinton.